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Report examines deadly violence against Somali journalists in 2012

On World Press Freedom day, 3 May 2013, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) – based in Mogadishu – launched its Annual Press Freedom Report for the year 2012.

With the support of the international press freedom advocacy organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the report documents how press freedom suffered. It details press freedom violations, including cases of journalists killed, wounded, arrested and threatened and media houses attacked.

2012 saw deliberate violence, impunity and injustice against journalists and media in Somalia in a widespread and systematic manner, involving a variety of perpetrators.

The National Union of Somali Journalists confirmed through regular and systematic documentation of attacks on journalists that 2012 was the deadliest year in history for Somali media. Five journalists were wounded in the period under review.

The report describes that the causes of deaths range from suicide blasts and shootings by politically agitated forces, to targeted attacks by the Al-shabaab and attacks by criminal elements. Mogadishu emerged as a deadly place for Somali media practitioners, with 14 of them murdered in the crime-ridden city. The murderous attacks heightened in September 2012, when seven journalists were murdered.

“Deadly violence against journalists and other media workers has been a distressingly recurring phenomenon in 2012. We observed in 2012 a further deterioration in the safety environment for journalists,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

In 2012, journalists faced frequent arrest, harassment, blackmailing, police detention and threats in Hargiesa, Bossasso, Las Anod, Mogadishu and Borame. Some 30 journalists were imprisoned in the last year for carrying out their work, the report stresses.

Somaliland surfaced as the worst jailer of journalists in the year 2012 with 28 of them arrested in Hargeisa, Borame and Las Anod by Somaliland police.

“Journalists in almost every district and region of Somalia report that they live and work in a state of fear and that any one of them may be exposed to danger as they work in an environment of fear, obstruction and intimidation,” declared Osman.

The NUSOJ report says that attacks and intimidation of journalists continued in 2012 with impunity for those killing, attacking or threatening to attack journalists.

Despite repeated calls for accountability and justice, a veil of impunity exists and almost no credible action has ever been taken following violence against journalists, the annual report adds.

The former Transitional Federal Government, which formally ruled Somalia in the better part of the last year, failed to mount any legal action or public inquiry, reinforcing the perception that there is a culture of impunity around violations against media.

“Contending with alarmingly regular and deadly violence as a consequence of their work, leading to widespread self-censorship, journalists struggle to maintain a balance in reporting on issues of public importance and their safety,” declared Osman.

Read the full report here.

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